Multilingual Education in Linguistically Diverse Nepal: The Role of Mother Tongue-Based Education for Better Learning Outcomes


Linguistically diverse, Nepal has 123 different mother tongues and for 55% of the people, Nepali (national language) is their second language of communication. This context poses a serious constraint on learning achievement for early grade students as the primary teaching language in all government schools is Nepali. Realizing this problem, Nepal has recently prioritized multilingual teaching at early grades in government schools. There are good intentions in adopting this approach to education, however, there are limited studies on whether multilingual education (MLE) really contributes to learning outcomes of early grade children. This study is an attempt to explore the effects of providing MLE to pre-primary students. This study was conducted in Magar ethnic group in Rukum and Tharu in Kapilvastu districts of Nepal where the Khan Magar and Awadi are the mother tongue languages respectively. The data was gathered from the children, parents, teachers and school management committee members who were engaged in various MLE interventions at those districts. Semi-structured questionnaires were developed to obtain the information from the respondents. Out of wide contributions, this study found that multilingual education had positively contributed in four aspects of school education; i) students' performance, ii) teachers skills; iii) parental involvement in children's education, iv) classroom learning environment. These contributions were further seen to be long-term in nature and directly related to the children's dynamic educational achievement. To a broader extent, the multilingual education also contributed to preserving the value of ethnic language and culture.

Author Information
Prem Singh Shintan, United Mission to Nepal (UMN), Nepal
Elizabeth Cozens, United Mission to Nepal (UMN), Nepal

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2018
Stream: Language Development & Literacy

This paper is part of the ACE2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon